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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 31, 2011 9:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Driven off the front page by the latest social craze! Aack!

I'll just briefly note that many listeners (though not many on this forum) actually favor the later GD years over the "Golden Age," feeling that the earlier Dead (before '72 or '73 or '77 or Brent) just sounds too raw & undeveloped. And I feel that the blatant "rockisms" the Dead sometimes indulged in '80s/90s shows also have their fans....I don't know about Miracle, but certainly something like Deal with its big-rock-guitar-solo generates a lot of enthusiasm.

So take care not to fling lances at "straw men" in your argument - GD music always divides opinions, from whatever year!
Personally I feel that the Dead were NEVER very good at "rock" - though they certainly shuffled, and they definitely excelled at making people dance, the straight rock vocabulary was not their strong suit. As you say, they worked on more subtle levels (the many Chuck Berry covers aside)....

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 1, 2011 4:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Also accurate observations - I think I tend to weight what I regard as "expert opinion" much more heavily than the general opinion. I also believe there has been a substantial shift over time in preferences. There was a time when 5/8/77 was the conventional wisdom for best show ever, and May 77 was regarded as the peak. Some people still make that claim, but in general the opinion of the late 70s has become a lot more critical and earlier years have risen tremendously in esteem.

I think the "test of time" has shown that the sound of the late 60s and early 70s - and this applies to more music than just the GD, more or less the whole field of popular music - has aged a lot better than the sounds of the late 70s and 80s. People now recognize that the sound of tube amps, analog tape mixing, often created a warmth and richness that was lost in the trend toward higher fidelity sound and the dawn of the digital era.

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-08-01 11:16:00

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Aug 1, 2011 6:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Of course, the late 60s/early 70s was also the High Rennaisance. Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael all happening at the same time. (Did I just name the ninja turtles?) Sometimes the stars just align artistically.

I doubt many folks listen to late 70s/80s music now for much more than nostalgia value. (Heck, it was hard enough at the time!) But it seems as if there have always been teens rediscovering the greats of the 60s, and while I'm sure percentages are declining, still, kids listening in part to the same music as their parents?!? That's actually pretty amazing. And it seems to be still happening. That era has legs. It's holding up like Miles Davis or, as you like to say, classical music.

I do think technical obsessions are sometimes the "wave of the times" and capture the consciousness and fascination of creative artists in ways that don't always hold up later. Maybe that's part of why 80s music ages worse than late 60s music. It's most definitely happening in movies now with CGI; Avatar won't age terribly well IMO.

Btw, for what it's worth, I agree with LiA that 80s-era GD sounds more rock-n-roll to my ears. Certainly that's true with what they were writing; Alabama Getaway vs Mississippi Half Step? I think that orientation is even reflected in their choice of covers -- rock classics rather than country or folk. Not the only reason for it, but still, that's what they chose with the mindset they had at the time.

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-08-01 13:27:41

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

It is remarkable how the '60s holds up....there was a dividing line in the '50s when "youth music" took over and made everything earlier sound "old" (though there was a little stutter until '63/64 when the real popular renaissance started). For kids today to listen to '60s bands would be like the early Dead listening to Bing Crosby & Paul Whiteman! (Or actually, even older Edison recordings & vaudeville-era bands; but the analogy breaks down because there were barely "popular" recordings 50 years before the '60s.)
Granted, I think rap & hip-hop is much more "in" these days, but classic rock holds its own.... We haven't yet reached another of those dividing lines.

One thing I noticed about the early Dead was how, in their covers, they completely ignored the mainstream music of the '40s-50s, instead taking all their cues from the 'underground' black blues/R&B tradition, and from ancient & half-forgotten jugband & "folk" records. Just part of the process by which early rock bands wiped out the "pop" music of their parents!

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 1, 2011 6:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I can tell I did a poor job trying to talk about classic rock vs. later day GD! One aspect of that is that I regard country rock, folk rock, etc, as a sub-genre of the "classic rock" sound. This is purely semantic - I can certainly tell that Jimi Hendrix and Crosby Stills and Nash have very different styles, but I would still put them in the "classic rock" category which includes most of the famous names from 65-75.

I think both you and LIA think of "classic rock" as labeling mostly the heavier guitar, more blues oriented sound - maybe that usage is more standard than my own tendency to use labels rather loosely.

More crucially, though, I wasn't trying to say that the later GD stopped trying to be a rock band - just that they became much worse at delivering the rock sound in a satisfying way, but other aspects of their musicality didn't fall off as much. It's obviously not black-and-white, and perhaps the vocabulary isn't precise enough to let me communicate the aspects of the band's sound I have playing in my mind's ear.

In later era GD, the way the guitar tones sit on top of the "steam powered clockwork" rhythm section makes everything sound much more internally divergent than the unified and solid sound of classic rock of all genres. It's true this kind of contrapuntal texture also exists in the Wall of Sound era especially in jams, but Billy K's fluidity and flow in his solo years does a lot to synthesize the sound into perceptual unity.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Makes you wonder where the critical consensus will be in 20 years....insofar as there's ever a "consensus" on the Dead.
Maybe new trends will arise that'll change the way people hear these things...

Anything sounds better than the '80s. That was easily the worst period for mainstream rock music....just ghastly!

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Poster: rastamon Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

from late 70's disco to the 80's HairBands...(tho i did like Come sail away) The GD had the best live music for that decade